Jamaican Fruit Cake, also known as, Jamaican Christmas Cake, Wedding cake, or Jamaican Black Cake. It is the cake of choice for weddings, parties, or any formal occasion in Jamaica.
Making this cake brings back childhood memories. My mom made several of these cakes so she could share them with friends and family during Christmas. The smell of our home was amazing as she baked them.
This fruit cake is usually made by soaking dried fruits in alcohol. It is soaked for as little as a few days to years, usually, the latter is the norm.
I don’t drink alcohol, instead, I substituted grape juice for the alcohol. Red wine, rum, or Port wine is traditionally used.
I must say with my version you won’t even miss the alcohol, when I serve this to my hubby, he was blown away and told me how I outdid myself and request I make another cake right away to serve along with my Sweet Potato Pudding and Sorrel Drink.
Origins Of Jamaican Fruit Cake
In the Caribbean, Christmas celebrations feature a rich, molasses-spiced cake loaded with tipsy dried fruits. The cake probably originated in the 18th century, when British colonizers brought festive plum pudding recipes to the West Indies. Islanders changed these dishes by adding regional ingredients and liquor. Over time, the black cake became a mainstay on Caribbean Christmas dinner tables, with roasted ham, pasteles, a jug of sorrel (seasoned hibiscus tea), and rice.
The cake’s preparation begins nearly a year in advance. To ensure that the fruit is sufficiently saturated for the cake, currants, raisins, cherries, prunes, and the peels of orange and lemon are all steeped in rum and wine for around six months in airtight jars. To produce the cake batter, sifted flour is combined with cinnamon, a bay leaf, a kola nut, nutmeg, a tonka bean, and other island spices. But what actually distinguishes this Jamaican fruit cake is the burnt sugar – often known as “browning” – that is added mere seconds before the cake enters the oven, giving it its distinctive, dark color.
From island to island, the cake differs.
Why You’ll Love This Jamaican Fruit Cake?
This Jamaican Fruit Cake is the epitome of indulgence. I like this cake so much for the following reasons:
Easy To Make: It is quite a simple and easy-to-make cake recipe. It requires just a few readily available ingredients and only takes a few minutes to make.
Gluten-Free: I promise you won’t be able to know this cake is gluten-free. It is airy and fluffy, and it goes nicely with the fruit and cream.
Vegan and Dairy Free: It is vegan but tastes exactly like a traditional Jamaican fruit cake prepared with dairy products.
Perfect for Any Time: This Jamaican fruit cake is the perfect dessert for any occasion. It is perfect for a holiday or festive dinner. It is always a crowd-pleaser. All vegans and non-vegans alike will love it.
Versatile: You can’t go wrong with a simple recipe, and I adore the simplicity of this cake’s design. However, you can easily swap out or add any other dried fruit or flavor extract you have on hand, too! You can also add nuts if you like.
I simply dressed up my cake with a dollop of cream and maraschino cherry. However, you could even use edible flowers to add extra color and summer to the cake if you’re feeling bold!
Let’s start preparing this cake…
Jamaican Fruit Cake Ingredients
- Dried chopped mixed fruits: I used raisins, cherries, prunes, and mixed peel. You can try different dried fruit combinations.
- Red grape juice: I don’t drink alcohol, instead, I substituted grape juice for the alcohol. Red wine, rum, or Port wine is traditionally used.
- Molasses: Molasses is a byproduct of sugar cane refining processes, and it is used in baking, candy making, and the production of rum. Compared to other sugars, it has more vitamins and minerals.
For the deep brown color, I used molasses but in Jamaica, we used browning as well. The color was perfect without the use of browning.
- Vegan Butter: In comparison to traditional butter, plant-based butter often have less saturated fat and more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
I often used Earth Balance Buttery Spread. You can use almond butter, coconut butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter. You can also use coconut oil in place of vegan butter.
- Almond extract: Like vanilla extract, it is most often used in baking, and just a small amount of it goes a long way. Many people who enjoy the pleasantly nutty flavor of almonds dislike the flavor of almond extract.
- Vanilla: The addition of vanilla enhances the flavor. One tsp. of vanilla essence is enough to add the proper amount of vanilla flavor to this dish.
- Lemon zest: Zest, also known as lemon peel, is the little shavings of citrus fruit’s vividly colored and highly flavored outer skin. Use it to enhance the tanginess of this Jamaican Fruit Cake.
- Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour: For my Jamaican Fruit Cake I used Bob’s Red Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour, you may substitute flour of your choice, such as oat flour, or rice flour.
- Almond Flour: This flour is usually used as a binding agent in savory recipes. You can use store-bought or make your own Almond Flour.
- Cane Sugar: For sweetener, I used coconut sugar to help with a deep rich color. You can substitute it with a dark brown sweetener like ‘Sucanat’ or Turbinado sugar.
- Ground Flax Seeds: Flaxseed act as an egg replacer.
- Baking powder: Baking powder is a leavening agent.
- Ground allspice: Use ground allspices for a more depth of flavor in this.
- Salt: This cake flavor will be enhanced by adding a small amount of salt to the batter. It won’t make your Jamaican fruit cake salty, so don’t worry.
- Coconut whipped cream, for garnish: Coconut cream is made from the inner meat of mature coconuts. It is also full of various minerals and vitamins, antioxidants, and even some fiber and protein.
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish (optional): Red cherries impregnated with sugar and packed in bitter almond-flavored sugar syrup.
How To Make Jamaican Fruit Cake?
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan and set aside. Place grape juice and dried fruits in a large saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow fruits to cool.
- Place 1 1/2 cups of the fruits and remaining liquid in a blender or food processor and puree. Pour in a medium bowl, add molasses, softened butter, almond extract, vanilla, and lemon zest, and mix well.
- In a large bowl, combine, gluten-free flour, almond flour, sugar, ground flaxseeds, baking powder, allspice, and salt
- Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Add remaining dried fruits and stir. Pour batter into a prepared round baking pan. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or when the fork is inserted in the center it comes out clean.
I simply decorate my cake with coconut whipped cream and maraschino cherry. However, you could have a wide variety of toppings. Here are several different ideas:
- Edible flowers
- Fresh berries
- Vanilla ice cream
- Orange or lemon zest
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER IDEAS? IF YOU HAVE ANY, PLEASE SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
How To Serve?
After it has cooled, it can be served immediately, but I like to prepare it the night before, wrap it in aluminum foil, and enjoy it the following morning with my coffee or tea.
It can also be served with cheese, like Brie or Cheddar.
Surprisingly, Jamaican Fruit Cake keeps fresh for a very long period. Especially when drenched with alcohol after baking.
When properly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature it will last up to one month, two to three months in the fridge, and one year in the freezer.
If they are well-wrapped in plastic wrap, individual cake pieces can be frozen.
If the Jamaican fruit cake is alcohol-free like this, it must be consumed within two to three days and stored at room temperature in a tight plastic bag.
Chef’s Notes On Jamaican Fruit Cake
- A digital scale will provide you with the most precise measurement, providing the finest possible bake.
- I didn’t have time to soak my fruits so I boiled them in grapes just for 10 minutes. Reserve a small amount to add to the batter as is for the texture.
- I used a springform pan for easy release, but a well-oiled baking pan or parchment-lined pan will work fine.
- Smaller baking dishes are perfect for gift-giving. If you bake your cakes in smaller pans, they will bake considerably more quickly.
- Any dried fruit combination can be used but traditionally, it’s raisins, cherries, mixed peel, prunes, and currants I have made a delicious cake with the addition of Trader Joes Golden Berry Blend.
More Vegan Holiday Dessert Recipes
- Vegan Sweet Potato Pie
- Gluten-Free Cranberry Scones
- Vegan Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
- Vegan Banana Upside-Down Cake
- Vegan Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Jamaican Rum Cake?
Jamaican rum cake, which is a common Christmas treat on the island, is also called “black cake” because of how dark it is. It typically has a variety of spices added to it as well as dried fruits.
What Is A Traditional Jamaican Wedding Cake?
The traditional wedding cake in Jamaican culture is Jamaican Black Rum Cake. The cake is carried in a procession to the ceremony. It is covered with white lace until it is ready to be revealed.
What Is The Difference Between Black Cake And Fruit Cake?
Also known as “black cake,” but also fruit cake and rum cake. Although they may be composed slightly differently, they are all the same.
What Does Jamaican Black Cake Taste Like?
The first bites have a little sweetness to them from the sugar, prunes, raisins, and cherries; the aftertaste has a faint flavor of wine, another key component. Making a black cake takes dedication and time, as the fruits are steeped for an entire year in alcohol or rum (your choice) in airtight mason jars.
How Long Can I Soak The Dried Fruits?
The fruits could be soaked for 12 hours and utilized after but for a stronger flavor, soak for much longer lengths of time. Traditionally, they were marinated in rum and port wine for an entire year. Due to the shortage of time, I boiled the fruits in grapes juice.
When Is Jamaican Fruit Cake Served?
Originally inspired by the British Christmas dessert plum pudding, this cake continues to play an important role in Jamaican Christmas celebrations.
Give this Jamaican Fruit Cake recipe a try. It’s incredibly delicious and super easy. I hope you like it.
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- Categories: Gluten-Free, Vegan
- Course: Dessert
- Cuisine: Jamaican
- Season: Christmas
- Energy: 257 kcal / 1074 kJ
- Fat: 12 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Carbs: 34 g
- Preparation: 20 min
- Cooking: 1 h
- Ready in: 1 h 20 min
- For: 12 servings
- 1 pound dried chopped mixed fruits, (raisins, cherries, prunes, mixed peel)
- 2 cups red grape juice
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup non-dairy butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 grated lemon zest
- 1 cup Gluten-Free all purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup cane sugar, (I used coconut-sugar)
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- coconut whipped cream, for garnish
- maraschino cherry, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch round baking pan and set aside. Place grape juice and dried fruits in a large saucepan on medium heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow fruits to cool.
- Place 1 1/2 cups of the fruits and remaining liquid in a blender or food processor and puree. Pour in a medium bowl, add molasses, softened butter, almond extract, vanilla, and lemon zest, mix well.
- In a large bowl, combine, gluten-free flour, almond flour, sugar, ground flaxseeds, baking powder, allspice, and salt
- Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredient and stir well to combine. Add remaining dried fruits and stir. Pour batter into prepare round baking pan. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or when fork is inserted in the center it comes out clean.
Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can stew the fruits in wine. Alcohol cooks and bakes out. The flavour J Wray and Nephew white rum and Red Label wine add is irreplaceable.
Glad to know there are gluten-free options, though.
Do you seriously believe all the alcohol evaporates? “Sorry to spoil the party, but here’s the real deal: Simply heating alcohol, or any other cooking liquid, does not make it evaporate as quickly as a child’s allowance in a candy store. The longer you cook, the more alcohol cooks out, but you have to cook food for about 3 hours to fully erase all traces of alcohol. A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data lab confirmed this and added that food baked or simmered in alcohol for 15 minutes still retains 40 percent of the alcohol. After an hour of cooking, 25 percent of the alcohol remains, and even after two and a half hours, there’s still 5 percent of it. In fact, some cooking methods are less effective at removing alcohol than simply letting food stand out overnight uncovered.” https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/food-network-essentials/cooking-wine-does-alcohol-burn-off
Eggless and excellent! I am a total vegan so I really appreciated this method. I wouldn’t rate if it did not live up to the hype.This cake was the best without any alcohol or egg,etc. It’s off the chain. Michelle needs to enter the Food Network Chopped Competition and bake! I celebrate her culinary discoveries
I just made one last week and will be making another in 2 days…but I will freeze some
Carol, you made my day! Thank you very much for your kind words, I’m so happy you enjoyed it.
Cab I substitute the vegan butter with whipped coconut oil?
Yulonda, yes you can. Enjoy!
Delicious! I’ve never made fruitcake before but love to eat it. My husband things this is phenomenal and we can’t wait to give some away tomorrow! For me this recipe made 3 mini loaves plus 3 ramekins of cake, baked for 45 minutes and then left in the oven as it cooled down. Will definitely be making again – thank you.
Amy, I’m so happy you and you hubby enjoyed it. I made mine today as well.Happy Holidays
Hi Michelle, I will like to make this recipe using spelt flour, is there anything you think I may need to use extra of in terms of liquids etc?
Wendalyn, nothing special at all. It will be great.
this recipe absolutely slaps! i soaked the dried fruit in rum for 2 weeks and then pureed before baking. I also used regular all purpose flour instead with the almond flour and black treacle instead of molasses. absolutely delicious result! this cake will be a christmas staple from now❤️
I’m so glad to have found your alcohol-free recipe but I was also hoping that it would be without nuts too (my husband is very allergic to nuts)….I see this includes almond extract and almond flour….so can I use regular flour and a different extract like maybe vanilla?
Pam yes, this recipe is very adjustable. You can.
Thanks so much for getting back to me! It sounds delicious! I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
Thank you Pam, your are welcome. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well.
This recipe looks very delicious: this is a must try for me. This is very mouthwatering.
Looks so moist and scrumptious
Thanks for your recipe Michelle. I have been looking for a vegan, non alcoholic great cake for a while. :) If i wanted to soak the fruit ahead of time, can I soak in grape juice or do I need to use alcohol? Also, can you tell me how long does this cake last?
Janelle, you are welcome. You can soak the fruits ahead of time in grape juice and keep them refrigerated.